Mercury Retrograde in Leo

Mercury from Hermetic child of Sun and Moon

from Hermetic Child of Sun and Moon (1752)

Mercury Retrograde in Leo

Flower-muscle, slowly pulling open / the anemone’s vast meadow morning, / until the loud sky’s polyphonic light / comes pouring down into its womb,

muscle of infinite reception / flexed in the quiet flower star, / sometimes so overwhelmed by fullness / that the sunset’s call to rest

is scarcely able to give you back / the wide-sprung petal edges: you, / resolve and strength of how many worlds!

We violent ones, we last longer. / But when, in which of all these lives, / are we finally open and receivers?

-Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus

When Mercury stations retrograde its best to honor the stillness of the quicksilver messenger, bringing focused presence to our day and open receptivity to the multiplicity of night. Being ever watchful as Mercury stations helps direct awareness toward opportunities appearing on the horizon as well as previously unnoticed matters on the edge of disarray that need remediation. Mercury is always powerful when stationing and typically dominates the astrological discourse when it does; however, when Mercury stationed retrograde on July 26 it was overshadowed by Mars  being opposite the Sun at the heart of its retrograde phase, as well as the anticipation of a Total Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius climaxing the next day. Being in the middle of eclipses, with a partial solar eclipse in Leo coming on August 11, we can expect more than the usual amount of change in coming weeks. Mercury twinkling in the cooling of sunset, standing still by zodiacal degree, offers us the gift of potent awareness.

Of course, Mercury shifting retrograde really means that Mercury is passing in between our Earth and its orbit with the Sun. Since Mercury becomes closest to us in orbit when retrograde, the star of Hermes becomes a more dominant force to contend with amongst the daily transits. Though Mercury retrograde has taken on overly negative projections in popular culture that are false exagerrations, it is true that there is a cunning, elusive quality of Mercury that can be difficult for many to negotiate with. The star of Hermes becomes a crafty, artful leader in life when retrograde, with a wily and procreative quality that was deftly teased by Karl Kerenyi in the following passage:

With Hermes as leader in life- so the classical tradition teaches us- the world receives a special nuance, the Hermetic accent as we have become acquainted with it. This Hermetic aspect is thoroughly empirical, and it remains within the realm of a natural experience of the world. The sum total of pathways as Hermes’ playground; the accidental “falling into your lap” as the Hermetic material; its transformation through finding-thieving- the Hermetic event- into a Hermetic work of art, which is also always something of a tricky optical illusion, into wealth, love, poetry, and every sort of evasion from the restrictions and confinement imposed by laws, circumstances, destinies- how could these be mere psychic realities? They are the world and they are one world, namely, that world which Hermes opens to us.

The reality of the Hermes world proves at least the presence of a standpoint from which it is revealed; more than that, it testifies to something active that is not merely revealing itself from that standpoint, but that is ever again suddenly present and drives the world to give concrete expression to the Hermetic works of art and illusion. The source of this experience and configuration of the world … is Hermes himself. It must possess the complete Hermetic breadth, from the phallic to …  the guidance of souls, an activity that stretches even beyond life.

— Karl Kerenyi, Hermes: Guide of Souls

Though people often curse blunders, mistakes, and the falling apart of possessions linked in the mind with Mercury retrograde, its worth considering the realm opened by Mercury retrograde is not an anomaly but rather something already there, awaiting activation. Indeed, Mercury stations retrograde at least three times a year for three weeks or so, and so the guidance it offers when retrograde is intrinsic to its nature. It’s what makes Mercury, Mercury.  In fact when retrograde Mercury brings an amplified, penetrating focus to research, inner exploration, and the changing of habitual patterns.

Visually, Mercury transitions from being an Evening Star visible at sunset into an invisible phase in which it descends below the horizon, too close to the Sun to be seen. This oracular disappearance from light is called the heliacal setting of Mercury, and will occur on July 30. From this day until Mercury eventually reemerges again into visibility on August 19 as a Morning Star at dawn, Mercury will be taking on its underworld role as a guide of souls, or psychopomp. Mercury is less the fleet footed, super curious social networker in this phase, becoming more plodding, penetrative, intuitive, and facile with symbolic interpretation of the signs we encounter in life. As Marsilio Ficino wrote in Opera:

Mercury has the power to put souls to sleep or waken them with his staff; that is, in some way or another by putting himself into a certain shape, he can dull or sharpen the mind, or weaken or strengthen it, or upset or calm it.

The tricks of changing mind we can feel while Mercury is retrograde may feel frustrating, but if we can stand back and contemplate the bigger picture we will begin to sense an insight we actually needed to bring into our awareness. Dane Rudhyar in The Astrology of Transformation wrote that Mercury “gives mental formulation to the solar will,” seeking “to impersonalize and provide a conceptual foundation- a raison d’etre – for the often unclear (because emotional) urge the would-be individual experiences to live his or her own life.” With Mercury retrograde in the home of the Sun, during a time in which the Leo Sun will become partially eclipsed (August 11), and Mars retrograde will continue to deeply stir desires, the capacity of Mercury to help us discover a purpose within the tumult will be needed medicine.

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from The Crowning of Nature

Though the world change swiftly / as the forms in clouds, / all perfected things fall back / to age-old ground.

Over what changes and passes, / wider and freer, / your deep song still hovers, / O god with the lyre.

Pain has not been understood, / love has not been learned,  / and what in death removes us

remains undisclosed. / Alone over the land / song hallows and heals.

-Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus

Mercury retrograde in Leo is the second of three retrograde phases in fire signs we will experience in 2018. Previously we experienced Mercury retrograde in Aries from March 22 through April 15, and later in the year Mercury will station retrograde in Sagittarius on November 16. Within a year of regenerating our relationship with the fire signs (consider what houses the fire signs occupy in your chart and related topics), the retrograde of Mercury in Leo is not only at the dead center of the process, but occurs during the most volatile period in astrology this year.  As a result, Mercury retrograde can facilitate breaking down and releasing whatever aspects of our life need clearing to create more space for new growth to take root. The purgation that can come with this Mercury retrograde is amplified due to it occurring in Leo, the sign of the upcoming eclipse as well as the sign forming a polarity to Aquarius, the sign of the recent Lunar Eclipse and the place Mars is currently retrograde in.

One of the advantages Mercury retrograde periods bring is increased capacity to look at things from a new perspective, helping us gain insight toward old issues and realize what aspects of life need support and attention.  The combined influences of Mars retrograde with eclipses makes it more likely than normal that storylines are changing dramatically, and so the extra stirring provided by Mercury retrograde brings to mind the delight Mercury takes in the twist that moves the plot in a surprising direction and creates needed change. Thomas Moore in his book about the Italian Renaissance astrologer Marsilio Ficino brilliantly summarized Ficino’s perspective toward the protean imagination intermixed by Mercury:

Mercury reveals an inner realm of things without depriving them of their concreteness… The most common mode of interpretation, in some circles the only way, is to dissect and analyze, freezing the components of an insight into brittle pieces which are then easy to manipulate. But the crafty sleight-of-hand of Mercury interprets without killing, transforming our view of one image through another…  Since interpretation consists chiefly in discovering new images among the old, the surprise Mercury brings is a new image or a new idea, a gift from the cunning god who knows how to stir the soul…

In Mercury, words are like crystals whose facets are revealed in their turning, in the various perspectives brought upon them. Whatever keeps our ideas and fantasies turning and shifting, eluding our rational grasp and defying conclusive definition, is Mercurial. When we are the deft, interpretive, eloquent secretaries of our own actions and ideas, then we are Mercury; for then we interpret our own minds.

— Thomas Moore, Planets Within: the Astrological Psychology of Marsilio Ficino

With Mercury retrograde in the fixed fire sign of Leo, opposite the sign of Aquarius where Mars is retrograde, we are journeying into the subconscious shadow of however we have been creatively self actualizing. Have we been holding back on going after what we want, or have we been taking on too much? What lies at the heart of our ambition, is it a need for attention or power? Or are we passionately in service to an ideal or message we wish to share with others, without need of extrinsic reward or recognition? What sacrifices on behalf of our ideals and community are we willing to make, and how will this impact our personal relationships? How much attention needs to be directed into our intimate relationships, personal space, and private creativity, rather than expressed through mediums into the collective?

In the end all of the challenges faced during Mercury retrograde in Leo will help us not only refine the vision we have of a healthy and fulfilling life, but begin enacting the modifications needed to rebalance whatever has been imbalanced. Whatever inauthentic patterns we have been engaging in will become obvious, opening the opportunity to separate from what we no longer want to engage, realigning in a direction resonant with our core values.

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Transfiguration of Thoth [Squaring the Circle] by Marlene Seven Bremner (2018)

Into the Heart

Here, among the vanishing, be, in the realm of decline  ⁄  be a ringing glass that shatters even as it rings.  ⁄  Be—and know as well the terms of nonbeing,  ⁄  the infinite ground of your inmost vibration,  ⁄  so that, this once, you may wholly fulfill them.

–Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus

Mercury will be reborn through its union with the Sun on August 8 at 16º27′ Leo. At this moment of regeneration within Mercury’s synodic cycle, efforts made in contemplation can be rewarded with clarifying insight. Mercury within a degree of the Sun was described by the ancient astrologer Rhetorius the Egyptian as being in the heart of the Sun, and this became known as moment in which Mercury is seated upon the solar throne, strengthened in all things mercurial. Typically we get can get a boost with our Mercury work at this time, or powerful realizations through inner reflection, but overall this is a time to emerge with a purified perspective from all the putrefaction of mind we’ve been experiencing since Mercury stationed retrograde on July 26. This particular inferior conjunction of Mercury is especially powerful and volatile, due to it occurring in between eclipses with Uranus in Taurus stationing retrograde a day before on August 7, and Mercury applying to a square with Jupiter in Scorpio that will perfect a couple days later on August 10.

As Mercury is a mutable planet that takes on the qualities of its aspects in astrology, Mercury near the Sun in Leo likewise takes on the potent heating, drying, clarifying, and inspiring qualities of the Leo Sun. Yet the current Mercury retrograde finds it in the strange climate of eclipses occurring during the Sun’s time in Leo. More significantly, Mercury will unite with the Sun for its fiery rebirth only three days before the Sun is partially eclipsed by the Moon. The shadow that will partially fall across our great solar light is therefore transmitted directly by the quicksilver messenger, just as Mercury is at a “newborn” phase of its cycle more susceptible than normal to other influences.

Marsilio Ficino in Three Books on Life wrote that as the Moon “receives a life-giving power” from the Sun each time it forms a union, “she receives from Mercury in the same place [Mercury is always near the Sun] a force which blends her moistures,” since Mercury has “the virtue of his own transformation into all other planets and by virtue of his many revolutions.” At the time of the inferior conjunction of Mercury, the Moon will be at home in Cancer within the closing, balsamic phase of its synodic cycle.  On August 10/11 the Moon will conjoin Mercury only six hours before the Moon then partially eclipses the Sun on August 11. This brings the regenerated Mercury into deep, stirring contact with whatever hidden material is emerging from the opening and closing of the eclipse gates, including the Total Lunar Eclipse of July 27.

As Mercury moves from 17º Leo where it unites with the Sun back to 12º Leo where it stations direct on August 18, Hermes will be playing its role of alchemical mystic with pleasure, diverting and then refocusing perception on a multiplicity of images and messages to help us sort through the insights revealed by the eclipses. An extra shift coming in the wake of the Leo Eclipse on August 11 will occur when Mars retrograde transitions from Aquarius into Capricorn on August 12. Mars retrograde leaving a whole sign opposition with Mercury retrograde will not make things easy all of a sudden, but it will lower the levels of volatility to a degree. With Mars retrograde in Capricorn while Mercury finishes the final week of its retrograde, we can begin taking action in accordance with whatever insights arose with the rebirth of Mercury.

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El Trovador by Remedios Varo

Mercury Stations Direct

And their feet move  /  Rhythmically, as tender  /  feet of Cretan girls  /  danced once around an  /  altar of love, crushing  /  a circle in the soft  /  smooth flowering grass

— Sappho, translated by Mary Barnard

Mercury stations direct on August 18 or 19, depending upon your time zone, at 11º32′ Leo. Not long after Mercury stations direct, we will also experience the heliacal rising of Mercury on August 19 when it becomes visible again at dawn as a Morning Star. Since ancient times in astrology this has been seen as an oracular moment of Mercury transmitting a message for us to receive. Fittingly for such an ancient spiritual context, Mercury will be stationing direct in Leo closely conjoining the North Node of Neptune.

The planetary nodes of Neptune began shifting back and forth from Cancer (North) and Capricorn (South) into Leo (North) and Aquarius (South) by the 10th century, but by the time of the 1100s they began stabilizing in Leo and Aquarius where they remain today. I was recently watching Joseph Campbell interviewed in The Power of Myth television series, and realized when he waxed poetic about the significance of the shift to the age of the troubadour that he was also speaking about the shift of the North Node of Neptune moving into Leo. Campbell said that the shift that came about in the age of the troubadour was monumental in terms of creating a human ideal for pursuing an authentic life rather than one dictated by the dogmatic authority of church, family, and culture. With the troubadours came the ideal of person to person love that continues into the modern era. Instead of conforming to the dictates of arranged marriage, the sway of the troubadours inspired the ideal of being seized by the soul’s counterpart in a romantic other. People became willing to risk literally burning in the fires of hell, as they were told they would do by authorities, in order to be with their beloved.

With Mercury stationing direct on the North Node of Neptune, the message we receive will involve an essence to embody in our creative actualization. We may feel inspired to sing a new song of heart centered inspiration. We will need to begin finding ways to work with the fecund creative potency emerging from within, integrating it into our identity and relationships. Sweetly, Venus will be at home in Libra and passing through a sextile with Mercury as our valiant messenger finally completes its underworld voyage. Moreover, not only Venus by sextile, but the Moon in Sagittarius by trine will be there to bolster reception of a new creative spirit as Mercury stations direct.

As Mercury resumes forward motion through zodiacal degrees again, Mars will begin stationing direct in Capricorn. Mercury reaches maximum elongation as a Morning Star on August 26 at 16 degrees of Leo, a point in its synodic cycle that Gary Caton in his book Hermetica Triptycha demarcated as an ending to the alchemical retrograde process of Mercury that began on July 11 when Mercury was at maximum elongation as an Evening Star at 17 degrees of Leo. Mars then stations direct two days later on August 28, and as Mars begins to generate some forward momentum, Mercury will leave the “shadow zone” of the degrees it formed its retrograde within on September 2 when it crosses over 24 degrees of Leo.

This means at the end of August we will be wrapping up both the Mercury and Mars retrograde periods, with awareness needed that we will still be dealing with the aftermath of Mars retrograde into October as it makes its way back toward the degree it originally stationed at. When we look back at these months in future years and decades, we are likely to remember it as a time of significant turning. Bear this in mind if things become overheated and rough, for you will have found new strength and realization on the other side of these transits. As a fragment of Sappho, who wrote in the 6th century B.C., still sings:

You may forget but

Let me tell you / that someone in / some future time / will think of us

-Sappho, translated by Mary Barnard

References

Barnard, Mary. (1958). Sappho: A New Translation. U of California Press.

Ficino, Marsilio. (1998). Three Books on Life: A Critical Edition and Translation with Introduction and Notes by Carol V. Kaske and John R. Clark. Tempe: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies.

Kerenyi, Karl. (1976). Hermes: Guide of Souls. Spring Publications.

Moore, Thomas. (1990). The Planets Within: the Astrological Psychology of Marsilio Ficino. Lindisfarne Press.

Rilke, Rainer Maria. (2004). Sonnets to Orpheus translated by Edward Snow. North Point Press.

Rudhyar, Dane. (1980). The Astrology of Transformation. A Quest Book.

Mercury Retrograde in Virgo & Leo

Iris

Iris

The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate; and later on, when it “happens” (that is, steps forth out of us to other people), we will feel related and close to it in our innermost being. And that is necessary. It is necessary – and toward this point our development will move, little by little – that nothing alien happen to us, but only what has long been our own. People have already had to rethink so many concepts of motion; and they will also gradually come to realize that what we call fate does not come into us from the outside, but emerges from us. It is only because so many people have not absorbed and transformed their fates while they were living in them that they have not realized what was emerging from them; it was so alien to them that, in their confusion and fear, they thought it must have entered them at the very moment they became aware of it, for they swore they had never before found anything like that inside them. Just as people for a long time had a wrong idea about the sun’s motion, they are even now wrong about the motion of what is to come. The future stands still, dear Mr. Kappus, but we move in infinite space.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Mercury Retrograde in Virgo

In times of destiny, when the threads of fate become loosened to be rewoven within momentous change, we can count on Mercury to slyly guide us in beguiling fashion.  Though Mercury when retrograde has become a scapegoat within popular culture, experience reveals that the Star of Hermes when retrograde enacts its namesake’s role of a psychopomp, or guide of souls.  Even the most frustrating or upsetting events that occur during times of Mercury retrograde ultimately tend to lead us onto a path that will take us into the experiences we need in order to reach our next level of growth.

Thus it is fitting that in between eclipses, periods of time that always signify vital turns of fortune and fate, Mercury will station retrograde and disappear into the invisible realm of the solar underworld at sunset.  While Mercury is retrograde we will experience a Total Solar Eclipse, both the Sun and Mars uniting with the North Node of the Moon, Saturn stationing direct, and Jupiter finally perfecting its long anticipated sextile with Saturn.  Factor in that Mercury begins its retrograde while opposite Neptune and ends its retrograde conjoining Mars at the same degree as the Total Solar Eclipse, while a Pisces Moon waxes full in union with Neptune, and we have an incredibly volatile and fertile mix of astrological transits that promise to bring dramatic changes and opportunities for profound growth.

Even though popular discourse labels periods of Mercury retrograde as disastrous aberrations that bring misfortunes and mishaps, the phase of Mercury retrograde is a regular cyclical phenomenon that happens at least three times every year, an essential aspect of Mercury’s orbit.  Unlike the astrological stereotypes, important actions can be initiated during Mercury retrograde as well as successful contracts signed.  However, during Mercury retrograde it is advisable to sustain mental alertness and be open to signs, symbols, and information in your environment that can help guide your intuition toward which actions to take or commitments to make.

Mercury retrograde is intrinsic to Mercury in astrology, a planetary archetype of contesting and contrasting.  While Mercury signifies insight in addition to communication, the lessons of Mercury do not always come from stability, as experience shows that chaos and disorientation can lead to illumination and realization.  Once Mercury moves retrograde it descends from being a visible Evening Star into an invisible, subterranean guide of soul catalyzing change and growth in situations that range widely from the maddening to the vivifying.  Flowing with Mercury retrograde involves letting go of strict control, opening to the wisdom coming from unexpected sources.   As the changeable nature of Mercury is found in its extremely variable speed, when Mercury slows down to station it is important to pay attention to its aspects in the natal chart as well as to other planets by transit.

This is the second year in a row that we are experiencing Mercury stationing retrograde in Virgo during a time of eclipses, as last year in 2016 Mercury stationed retrograde in Virgo two days before an Annular Solar Eclipse.  This year’s version has a more mysterious opening act, however, due to it occurring in between eclipses rather than just before the beginning of eclipse season.  The days in between eclipses are always full of unexpected shifts and significant encounters, and so adding in the beginning of Mercury retrograde will amplify the strange fatefulness of the time.

Iris as Mercury and Vesta

Mercury stations retrograde while united with Vesta in Virgo and opposing Neptune in Pisces.  During the build-up to Mercury retrograde, which included the Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius, Mercury formed two exact conjunctions with Vesta (Mercury has been within three degrees of Vesta in Virgo since July 26).   A figure of myth who encapsulates the symbolism of Mercury united with Vesta in opposition to Neptune is Iris, handmaiden of Hera (Juno) and messenger to the gods.  Like Hermes, Iris also carries a caduceus, yet the other magical tool she carries, the water pitcher, helps show how her function as messenger differs from Hermes.  Golden-winged and radiant, Iris is a goddess of sea and sky who connects heaven and earth, watering the clouds with her water pitcher full of the enlivening waters she collects from the sea.  She therefore helps produce the rain that brings fertility and cleansing to our Earth, yet she is perhaps most known for her association with the rainbow she also creates.  Iris is as swift as stormy winds, able to descend into the depths of both the ocean as well as the underworld.  Similar to Hermes, Iris connects the world of gods with the world of humanity.

The union of Mercury with Vesta in opposition to Neptune signifies that through devotional focus we may perceive powerful messages and guidance, while at the same time suggesting a downfall could occur when engaged with deception.  One of the mediating roles that Iris plays between humanity and the gods is through facilitating the fulfillment of the prayers and wishes of humans by illuminating them to deities in position of assistance.  Indeed, the golden wings of Iris are capable of bringing light to the most dark of places.  Yet, for those who break oaths or knowingly express falsehoods, Iris will put them to sleep with the water she has collected from the River Styx in the underworld.   Similarly, with Neptune in Pisces playing a monumental role during the period of Mercury retrograde, it will be vital to maintain focus on being honest and authentic so as not to fall into the realm of Neptunian illusion that will be capable of wreaking havoc like a tidal wave.

The association between Iris with rainbows is a beautiful symbol to work with during the upcoming Mercury retrograde that will take us into the zone of an immensely powerful Total Solar Eclipse.   Rainbows not only link heaven and earth with their transcendent and otherworldly colors, they also help to inspire hope and the capacity to believe it is possible for us to lead a more fulfilling life than current circumstances indicate.  It is further fascinating that in some versions of myth that Iris is married to Zephyrus, the west wind, and that their union gave birth to Pothos, one of the winged gods of love (the erotes) whose name translates as “yearning” and is associated with strong desire and longing for a loved one who is oftentimes absent.  It will be important to stay grounded in our earthly realm (Virgo) with clear focus (Vesta) during this Mercury retrograde period, and yet at the same time to fully realize the available gifts we will need to allow our imaginations and desires to open us to potentials that go beyond the confines of our present reality (Neptune).

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The Apparition (1917) by Marc Chagall

Mercury opposes Neptune

The union of Mercury and Vesta in Virgo in opposition to Neptune dominates the beginning of this Mercury retrograde period, with Venus in Cancer playing a facilitating role.  As Mercury stations retrograde, Venus is separating from harmonious aspects with both Neptune and Mercury (a trine with Neptune; a sextile with Mercury), as well as separating from a recent conjunction with Ceres in Cancer.  During the retrograde movement of Mercury, Venus will move on to catalytic aspects with Pluto in Capricorn, Jupiter in Libra,  and Uranus in Aries.  The influence of Uranus is further strengthened by the Moon applying to a conjunction with Uranus as Mercury stations retrograde, as well as the fact that Mercury will ultimately station direct in a helpful trine with Uranus.  However, since Mercury will also station direct less than a day before a Full Moon in Pisces that is united with Neptune, there is an unmistakeable looming influence of Neptune upon the course of events that will accompany this period of Mercury retrograde.

While the totality of the aspects listed above could coincide with many diverse forms of challenge, all of them are amazing catalysts in the realm of artistry and inspiration.  Mercury has incredible strength in Virgo, being both its home and exaltation, and so as Mercury slowly begins to peel itself backwards it can help facilitate deep focus on artistic and academic projects of all mediums and forms, especially those that involve a component of research and analysis followed by expression.  Nine days after Mercury stations retrograde we will experience a Total Solar Eclipse in which Mercury will function more as a subtle guiding influence than a dominant component of the  portal opened with the syzygy.  During powerful eclipse alignments like we will experience this month, new manifestations will appear in our lives coinciding with other elements fading away.  It is a blessing Mercury is retrograde in Virgo, as it is a mutable earth sign that can aid us in staying connected within our bodies and all of the mutating details of our daily lives.

With the strong transpersonal influences of Neptune, as well as Uranus and Pluto, upon the Mercury retrograde, the capacity of Mercury to bring nonlinear and unexpected messages from oracular sources is heightened.  Pay close attention to the messages received from synchronous alignments of your daily path with animals, plants, minerals, music, and all manner of symbolic signs.  Allow your intuition and bodily instincts to transmit impressions that you value at least as much as whatever your rational mind is constructing.  It may prove very difficult to keep events moving in accord with carefully made plans, however opening up plans and projects to the flow and all of the changes that will coincide with the month ahead can improve end results.  Oftentimes the frustrating experiences of Mercury retrograde illuminate the exact components of life that needed our attention in order to be reworked or strengthened.

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The Creation of Man (1958) by Marc Chagall

Mercury in the Heart of the Sun

The rebirth moment for Mercury during its retrograde comes on August 26 when Mercury aligns with the Sun at the exact degree and minute.  This is known as Mercury’s cazimi moment in which it enters the heart of the Sun to be purified and regenerated.  In contrast to the Mercury cazimi that occurs when Mercury is moving direct on the other side of the Sun from our orbital position (known as its superior conjunction that last happened at the Cancer Solstice), the inferior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun occurs during its retrograde when Mercury passes in between our orbit with the Sun.  Symbolically, the superior conjunction tends to bring more spiritual epiphanies or sudden insights weaving disparate strands together, whereas Mercury at the heart of the Sun during its retrograde tends to bring a deeper, penetrating insight into the current reality of our material lives and the pang of incarnation in our earthly flesh.  In the days surrounding August 26 we may feel like resting our Mercurial functions as a part of its regeneration, however, the period of time in which Mercury is within a degree of the Sun on August 26 will bring added strength and power to all Mercurial activities such as all forms of research and expression.

Mercury will enter the heart of the Sun at 3º48′ of Virgo, an incredibly powerful placement of Mercury.  The fourth degree of Virgo is in both the home and exaltation of Mercury as well as within its own Egyptian bounds, signifying that this a section of the zodiac in which Mercury not only has important work to do but also has extraordinary strength.  The Sabian symbol for the fourth degree of Virgo, black and white children play together happily, was interpreted by Dane Rudhyar as signifying “the overcoming of socio-cultural prejudices.”  Though it may seem laughable during a time of such widespread vitriolic discourse in global politics full of prejudice that any sort of collective evolution could be occurring around oppression and prejudice, it is worth bearing in mind the play space of children in which the influence of cultural conditioning has not yet taken hold.  The Sabian symbol for the degree of Mercury cazimi suggests perceptions can awaken that go far beyond the constraints and limitations of how we have been conditioned by surrounding culture to perceive and judge the worth of others.   The idea of playing together happily also highlights the theme of imbibing daily life with as much playful creativity as possible during this time of tumultuous astrological transits.

Mercury will enter the heart of the Sun five days after the Total Solar Eclipse in Leo and one day after Saturn stations direct for the final time in Sagittarius.  At the same time Saturn is stationing, Jupiter will have entered the third decan of Libra it rules and will be applying closely to a last quarter sextile with Saturn.  As a result the period of Mercury entering the heart of the Sun on August 26 is a potent moment to re-center amidst all of the changes being brought forth from external and internal events.  Saturn stationing brings a seriousness to the moment that calls for us to walk and talk in absolute integrity with our inner values and principles, while the harmonious aspect between Jupiter and Saturn can bring opportunities to stabilize and strengthen both the vision as well as the foundation of whatever we are developing and crafting.

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Iris Carrying the Water of the River Styx to Olympus for the Gods to Swear By (1793) by Guy Head

Mercury Stations Direct in Leo

Mercury stations direct on September 5 at the same degree as the Total Solar Eclipse in Leo.  Mars will have already entered Virgo by the time Mercury is exactly stationing, but during the course of its stationing Mercury and Mars will unite at the end of Leo.  Both the Sun as well as Mars will have united with the North Node of the Moon in Leo during Mercury’s retrograde, and Mercury will furthermore be stationing direct four degrees away from the North Node of the Moon.  At this point we can receive a important message that connects us directly with however the narratives of our lives has been transmuting during this period of eclipses, and with the new information will come opportunities to create movement within whatever openings came through with the eclipses.  Mercury uniting with Mars while it is stationing can coincide with some heated and difficult conflicts, so it will be important to be actively practicing mediating skills in conversations with others.  There is immense inspirational fire available in this period to push yourself forward dramatically in areas of growth you previously have not fully embraced.

The influence of Neptune looms over the stationing direct of Mercury, since the Moon will be applying to a conjunction with Neptune and within a day of its stationing we will experience a potent Full Moon in Pisces united with Neptune.   Amping up the energy even further is the fact that Jupiter in Libra will be getting closer to its final opposition with Uranus in Aries.   The opposition between Jupiter and Uranus is a breakthrough moment in which many diverse, ingenious insights and messages will enter the collective.  Some of the most powerful moments of the Jupiter and Uranus cycle, however, often come in the private moments of significant conversations and relationship experiences, or the work of isolated artists creating outside the rays of mainstream spotlights.  There is amazing inspiration and imagination available within the surrounding transits of Mercury stationing direct to seize and work with.

Finally, its interesting to note that Mercury will be stationing direct while in conjunction with the Persephone asteroid #399.  The myth of Persephone emerging out of her time in the underworld is a fitting symbol for the fact that both Mercury and Mars will be emerging from out of their underworld experiences while united with the Persephone asteroid.  Demetra George wrote the following about the Persephone asteroid in her book Finding Our Way Through the Dark:

In the birth chart Persephone, as a daughter of the patriarchy, symbolizes the process of a child’s separation from its mother.  Persephone can indicate how and where, either physically or psychologically, we may be abducted and plunged into an underworld experience (sometimes at an early age) where we encounter terror, loss, and confusion, and feelings of abandonment. This descent can enable us to develop a relationship with the hidden forces in our unconscious, activate our psychic abilities, release the past, discover a new sense of our adult self and strengths, and emerge transformed and renewed.  Some individuals who experience Persephone as a tragedy from which they have never recovered may react by developing patterns of distrust, withdrawal, fear of sexuality and intimacy, fantasy life, depression, chemical addictions, separation anxieties, victimizaiton, passivity and powerlessness, and being acted upon by the strong will of others.

–Demetra George

Persephone’s name means “she who is to be feared” (Guttman, p.176), and it is possible to view her abduction into the underworld as more about her destiny than a tragedy, for the unalterable shift she created in the cosmos through becoming a life partner of Hades who would descend and ascend back and forth between the upperworld and the underworld, was a calling that fit the unique gifts she held within her soul.  Roberto Calasso in The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony wrote that Persephone stepping into her role as Queen of the underworld who can re-ascend to the world above implied that the “invisible would now reassert its rights over the body of the visible more strictly than before: their dealings with each other, long diluted and mingled together on earth, would find a new center of gravity.”   Persephone, Mercury, and Mars united at the end of this retrograde signify that the time has arrived to collect all of the wisdom and courage you can draw from the past period of underworld experiences in order to re-ascend into our wider communities with whatever gift or message you have cultivated to share.  Like Iris soaring with golden wings and bearing a pitcher full of underworld water, we can create rainbows out of the stormy atmosphere and commit ourselves to oaths of living and creating in accordance with our essence in good ways for all.

References

 

Calasso, R. (1993). The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony.  Knopf.

George, D. (1994). Finding Our Way Through the Dark:  an astrological companion to Mysteries of the Dark Moon. AFA.

Guttman, A. & Johnson, K. (1993). Mythic Astrology:  Archetypal Powers in the Horoscope.

Rudhyar, Dane. (1974). An Astrological Mandala: the cycle of transformations and its 360 symbolic phases. Vintage.